I got a response late last night from Matt DeCample, Gov. Mike Beebe’s spokesman, to the question of whether the governor would immediately declare a vacancy and begin a special election process when Lt. Gov. Mark Darr resigns Feb. 1.
We’ll discuss that next week when we’re back in the office now that we have a date.
What’s to discuss? The law is clear isn’t it? Well, not entirely And, as I mentioned yesterday, there’s some legislative interest in legislating away, at least for this year, the need to hold a special selection to fill a vacancy in the lieutenant governor’s office. It would save the cost of an election, for one thing. Nobody’s saying it bluntly, but there’s also a general understanding that the office is essentially useless.
Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux has been circulating the legislative fix. Beebe has expressed reluctance to add non-fiscal matters to the fiscal session, though says he might be amenable to something with virtually unanimous support. So far, Democratic Party Chair Vince Insalaco has expressed support for following the law as currently written. But some Democrats have sounded amenable to skipping an election, as was done in 2006, though with a shorter period of vacancy after Winthrop Paul Rockefeller died.
I think I’m agnostic on the issue. But I do think the office could be abolished, along with one or two others in the state official lineup. That would require constitutional change, however, and is definitely beyond the reach of a legislature meeting on fiscal matters.